Demystifying the Algorithm: A Quick Guide for Small Businesses

Instagram has evolved into a crucial marketing tool for businesses. Its algorithm is often viewed as an enigma, leaving marketers puzzled about how it ranks content. Recently, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, shared some specific insights into how they weight content in the algorithm and how creators and brands can optimize for placement in different sections of the app. Here’s a TLDR; of his breakdown and a few actionable steps you can take to level-up your content today.

Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm

Instagram employs various algorithms to rank content in different sections of the app, namely the Feed, Stories, Explore, and Reels. Let’s delve into these sections to understand the factors influencing content ranking:

  1. Feed & Stories Ranking: The algorithm considers three main factors:
    • Interest: Instagram predicts your affinity towards a post based on your past interactions.
    • Timeliness: Recent posts get priority over older ones.
    • Relationship: If you frequently engage with a user (like, comment, share their posts, or DM), their content will likely appear higher in your feed.
  2. Explore Ranking: This section showcases posts from accounts you don’t follow yet. Ranking is influenced by:
    • Information about the post: The engagement a post receives, such as likes and comments.
    • Information about the poster: Instagram gauges how likely you are to be interested in their other content.
    • Your activity: The posts you’ve previously liked or shared.
  3. Reels Ranking: Instagram’s short-video feature, Reels, is gaining momentum. It prioritizes entertaining and fun videos that are likely to be enjoyed by a broad audience.

Optimizing Your Instagram Strategy

Knowing how the algorithm works is half the battle. Let’s explore some strategies to optimize your content:

  1. Feed & Stories:
    • Create engaging content that resonates with your audience.
    • Be consistent with your posting schedule and try to post at times when your audience is most active.
    • Encourage interaction by responding to comments and DMs promptly.
    • Diversify your content. Utilize photos, videos, and stories to keep your audience engaged.
  2. Explore:
    • Use relevant hashtags and location tags to expand your reach.
    • Collaborate with other creators in your niche to tap into their audience.
    • Craft compelling captions that include a question or Call-to-Action (CTA) to boost engagement.
  3. Reels:
    • Keep your Reels short, catchy, and visually appealing.
    • Leverage trending topics and popular audio tracks to increase your visibility.
    • Provide clear titles and descriptions to help users understand your content.

Creating Content for your Ideal Client on Social

Understanding your ideal client profile(s) (ICP) is crucial to creating content that resonates with your target audience. By knowing their interests, habits, and preferences, you can tailor your content to better engage them on different sections of Instagram.

1. Feed & Stories:

Your Feed and Stories are the heart of your Instagram presence. These are a few ways your brand can use them to target your ICP effectively:

  • Personalize Your Content: Use insights about your ICP’s preferences and interests to create content that speaks directly to them. For example, if your ICP is environmentally conscious, share posts about your brand’s sustainability efforts.
  • Use Stories for Behind-the-Scenes Content: Instagram Stories are perfect for sharing candid, behind-the-scenes content. This can help your ICP feel more connected to your brand.
  • Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC): Sharing UGC can make your followers feel valued and seen. It also shows your ICP that people like them are using and loving your products or services.

2. Explore:

The Explore page is where Instagram users go to discover new content. These spaces are more customized to the specific user, so being really intentional about what your ICP might be looking for and engaging with online will help you get closer to that explore page. To reach your ICP here consider these tactics:

  • Use Relevant Hashtags: Using hashtags relevant to your ICP’s interests can help get your content in front of them. Do some research to find out which hashtags your ICP is likely to follow or check out.
  • Collaborate with Similar Brands or Influencers: Collaborating with brands or influencers that your ICP follows can help increase your visibility on the Explore page.

3. Reels:

Reels are all about quick, entertaining content. In some cases, you can treat reels as an entirely seprate feed with an amended content strategy and approach to sharing insights, and information about your products and services in a way that feels much more entertainment driven. Start with these tactics:

  • Jump on Trends That Resonate With Your ICP: If there’s a trending topic or challenge that aligns with your ICP’s interests, create a Reel around it. This can help boost your visibility and engagement.
  • Showcase Your Products or Services in Action: Use Reels to demonstrate how your products or services work. This can be particularly effective if your ICP values seeing products in use before making a purchase.

Invest time in getting to know your ICP’s interests, behaviors, and preferences, and use these insights to inform your content strategy. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to create content that resonates with them, ultimately driving more engagement and conversions for your brand.

Prioritize Quality over Quantity, Always

Remember, the key to Instagram success lies in providing value to your audience. Focus on quality over quantity and create content that appeals to your target audience. Furthermore, make sure to monitor your analytics to understand what works best for your account and adjust your strategy accordingly.

If you’re ready to supercharge your Instagram growth, our digital marketing agency is here to help. We can create a tailor-made organic content strategy for your SMB that aligns with your business goals and targets your desired audience. Contact us today to take your Instagram game to the next level.